Saturday, February 16, 2013

Friday Baseball Post

Nothing long today, because I'm actually working on a longer baseball thing, but: Pitchers and Catchers Report! Are there better words in the American language? Not that I know of.

I've talked before about how great it was growing up in Phoenix in the earlier days of the Cactus League, when the ballparks were not crowded, and everything was smaller scale. And how we used to drive to Francisco Grande every spring to see the Giants workouts. Back then, there were only a handful of teams, and they weren't all in the Phoenix area -- the Angels were in Palm Springs, the Padres in Yuma, the Indians in Tucson. But spring training was great fun. Of course, the other thing that young'ns probably don't realize is that well into the 1970s the opportunities to see major league baseball at all were very limited if you weren't in a big league city. There was the Saturday afternoon Game of the Week, and for a while ABC had Monday Night Baseball, but that was it outside of the All Star Game and the postseason. And of course the team selection for those games was just like today's Sunday games on ESPN: if your team wasn't very good and wasn't in New York, you might see them once or twice a season. So it was just an incredible treat to see spring training games.

By the way, did I mention that the team in Scottsdale is the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants? It sure doesn't get old.

8 comments:

  1. I grew up in Pompano Beach, Florida watching the then Washington Senators. I even saw Ted Williams manage and got his autograph when I was around 10. It was great fun.

    But how do you keep it (and for that matter most sports) fresh after all the years. It just got boring for me at some point and I stopped caring.

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  2. Replies
    1. The town (no comment), or the Giants ballpark there?

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    2. The town. They had speed trap cameras early on, and fairly unfriendly politics. Everything based upon taking money and then dumping the refuse on their neighboring towns.

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  3. When spring training game tickets passed the $30 level, I gave up on plans to take a spring break trip to cath some games...

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    Replies
    1. Is it really that bad? Of course, in the 1990s I used to sit upstairs behind the plate in Oakland for $5 (and actually for $2.50; any student ID got you in half price). The bleachers in Candlestick were around $5, too, and those were great seats -- that's the cheap bleachers they built in the 1990s, in the last several years they were there.

      Checking...yeah, for next Saturday's game hosting the Angels, apparently all that are left in Scottsdale are bleachers for $19 and sitting on the lawn for $16. More power to them if they can get that, but that's pretty pricey to watch 3-5 innings of most of the Giants regulars and maybe half, if you're lucky, of the Angels regulars.

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  4. Back in '81 or '82 I visited relatives in Tucson and on the return trip to SF I stopped in Scottsdale for gas. The ballpark was around the corner and I simply walked in and caught the last few innings of an A's game vs. the Yakult Swallows. For some reason this Japanese team had come to AZ to train (?) with the Major Leaguers. After the game had ended and the A's had left the field the Swallows returned to the field, lined up along the first baseline, were lectured by their manager and then proceeded to take infield, practice base running, bunting, and played pepper. I was amazed. When the team was leaving the field I called out to a one player and expressed my admiration. He, obviously, responded in Japanese, but sensed my sincerity and handed me his cap.
    I still have it.

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  5. Great stories. But one comment on the inaccessibility of major league baseball outside team cities before the 70s. This was counterbalanced a bit by the greater popularity of baseball nationally, and the lack of as much competition for air time. So while there weren't many national TV broadcasts, there were regional broadcasts. There was also radio, which is how we followed baseball regularly. You didn't have to live in Pittsburgh to listen to Bob Prince and Jim Woods do the Pirates games over KDKA. Especially at night, it reached quite an audience.

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